‘Bread and butter’ v. reform agenda

Last October, Chicago teachers authorized a strike after rejecting a proposed five-year contract that was backed by their union’s leaders. Anger over the contract’s length and health care costs fueled the rejection.

Q&A with Phillip Jackson

When you talk about parent involvement, what do you mean?

We’re talking about not simply making parents the first, best and most important teachers [of their children], but also making parents the ones who create and maintain educational standards. … Right now, especially for black and for Latino parents, other people are creating those standards and those standards are not very high, and, in fact, they’re very, very low…


A collection of facts, figures and news briefs about school reform—both in Chicago and around the country.

Popular despite the research

researchers latest studies again found that holding low-achieving students back did not help them academically and increased the likelihood they would drop out. The retained students had fallen far behind their peers in the earliest years of school.

Attempt at critical mass falls short but pays dividends

Chicago United raised money to pay for on-site classes, mentor training and candidate application fees. The program would support teachers for three years—one year to prepare for the extensive application process, a second year to undergo the process itself and a third to train successful candidates to become mentors.

Older 8th-graders take new route

On average, students who spent a year in a center made only a half-year’s progress in reading and one month’s progress in math, according to a 2003 study by the Consortium on Chicago School Research. And 80 to 85 percent dropped out by the end of 10th grade, according to the CPS Office of High School Programs.

Three who were kept behind

Beethoven Elementary is a well-run school that is unusually resourceful in attracting extra supports. Even so, some of its students fail to make it through the School Board’s promotion gate.Repeating a grade gives some kids enough time to catch up while others continue to struggle. In the following examples, the children’s names have been changed to protect their privacy.

N.C. study finds certification pays off for students

Students taught by teachers who are National Board-certified scored as much as 15 percent higher on standardized tests than students taught by teachers without Board certification, according to a study of North Carolina elementary students released in March.

How academic achievement academies work

Students who fail to meet minimum standards required for high school admission and are too old to remain in elementary school (age 15 by December 1) are enrolled at their regional Academic Achievement Academy.

How Beethoven beats the odds

For the last four years, Beethoven has posted test scores that topped the city average. That translates into fewer student retentions. For example in 2002, the district as a whole retained 21 percent of 3rd-graders; Beethoven retained just 10 percent

The new studies

“Ending Social Promotion: The Response of Teachers and Students”Robin Tepper Jacob, Susan Stone, Melissa Roderick

The Consortium, February 2004

Reports the results of surveys and interviews with principals and teachers on the impact of the CPS promotion policy.

Board insider challenged new president of principals group

The election, to be held by mail-in ballot during the first two weeks of May, offers the organization’s roughly 1,400 voting members a choice between leaders with very different styles. They can opt for someone who believes working and speaking publicly, as Berry has in recent months.

Living up to Brown v. Board

Retention, a popular strategy used by urban school districts to end social promotion, is favored by policy makers and the public despite definitive evidence that it does no good for the kids who are held back. Retained kids do not improve academically and are more likely to drop out of school.

3 routes to Senn High School’s catch-up academy

Many students assigned to an achievement academy get angry. Zulyanna felt relieved. Having repeated both 6th and 7th grades, she was too old to stay in elementary school for 8th grade. The academy would give her the chance to skip ahead and, if she passed her classes, get into 10th grade only a year behind.


A bill now pending in the Legislature would require all high school students to take a college-prep curriculum starting in 2010, according to the April 21 Contra Costa Times. Students would have to take the minimum requirements for admission to colleges in the state university system.

Capital Dispatch

Many opponents suggested the state should first pay for its proven teacher-training programs, like the Golden Apple Scholars, which Gov. Rod Blagojevich cut from his budget. Supporters are trying to restore that program’s $3.8 million funding. Blagojevich has until late July to act on the new measure.

Comings & Goings

The American Educational Research Association has awarded the 2004 Lifetime Achievement Award for outstanding contributions to the curriculum field to William Schubert, professor and chair of curriculum and instruction in the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Education.